Verizon Interviews Leaving Some MCI Partners Spooked

As part of what it calls its recruitment phase, New York-based Verizon, is conducting phone and on-site interviews with a large number of the legacy MCI agents it won when the two carriers merged in a deal that closed in January.

The interviews are part of how Verizon will decide which legacy MCI master agents will stay on as partners in 2007 and which will not, said Kristen McCarthy, director of partner programs for Verizon's mid-Atlantic and Western regions during a conference call in August. Verizon has said it plans to cut many of these legacy agents.

Each of the four legacy MCI master agents who spoke with CRN requested anonymity, as their negotiations with Verizon are still underway.

One of these partners was so infuriated after the interview with Verizon, that he agreed to go on the record with CRN to explain the problems with Verizon's approach. But this partner then decided instead to remain anonymous and try to renegotiate with Verizon.

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A second legacy MCI partner said Verizon was impressed by the partner's operation after a phone interview. "However, we are not one hundred percent comfortable since we do not know what their new program will detail," this second partner said. "We're just waiting for them to schedule an on-site visit to our office to check out our operation."

Verizon will not divulge all the details of its 2007 program until it completes the recruitment phase, which should be last through November, McCarthy said. "The full-blown plan with all of the details will not be available for any of us until well into November, and by that time, our interviewing has to be completed," she said in August.

Verizon declined to comment for this story.

A third legacy MCI partner said that his interview did not go well and that he is now considering teaming with several other legacy MCI agents who were also dissatisfied with what they heard during their Verizon interviews. This would be an effort to reengage Verizon as a larger, and hopefully more influential, "super agent" that would be able to drive so much business to Verizon the carrier would have to appease it, he said.

Some of the details of the 2007 VSPP that Verizon has made available to partners required larger deal sizes to get on-site assistance from Verizon Business' engineers. A major concern among legacy MCI partners is whether or not they will continue to be paid commissions for renewals of their customers who are now Verizon customers. Here, Verizon has not made its decision yet.

A Verizon spokesman said after the August conference call that he did not immediately have numbers to quantify how many legacy MCI agents Verizon plans to retain in 2007. But in March, Kathy Koelle, Verizon's senior vice president for business solutions sales and marketing at the time, told CRN that hundreds of MCI partners were "idle agents" and could be terminated. Koelle was reassigned shortly after making the statement, a move that a Verizon spokesman said was a strategic reassignment, not a disciplinary action resulting from her comments.